On Nov. 7, San Diego Unified School District moves forward with three new or re-elected board members reconfiguring a board of five, beleaguered by governing questionably in the students’ best interests.

In the last few years, we’ve seen more than our share of controversies that United Parents for Education, or UPforEd, believes served the political expediency of adults to the personal disappointment of parents, and the educational letdown of students.

Let’s consider just a few decisions made by five people, elected by the majority of San Diego Unified voters that leads us to question their motives.

Recently, San Diego Unified decided not to pursue $15 million dollars in funds under Race to the Top. The Obama administration put forward Race to the Top criteria and guidelines, in an effort to improve student outcomes and close the achievement gap.

Yet, San Diego Unified chose not to even apply for these funds. A parent has to ask why wouldn’t the district pursue another source of funding during such tight budget times?


We Stand Up For You. Will You Stand Up For Us?

In another confounding example, the district faced spiraling healthcare expenses in 2010 to the tune of $167 million — the biggest share of cost aside from payroll.

The issue came up this year and the unions blocked hearings on proposals from competitors of the California Schools Voluntary Employees Benefits Association without even a public hearing on the matter.

The media brought the issue to light discovering that in 20 years, the district hasn’t put the healthcare bid out once despite best practices suggesting soliciting new bids every three to five years.

Because of decisions like these there is not enough money left in the budget to fund teachers. So our teachers, sometimes the best and brightest, get pink-slipped each year.

Yet for all these poor fiduciary decisions, voters continue to elect school board members who maintain the status quo and put what’s best for kids’ achievement second, placing the full burden on parents and teachers.

Just knowing a Pacific Beach parent recently took to the streets picking up and selling off crates of recyclables to help raise money for supplies even as the district continues to weigh bankruptcy is enraging.

How many times have we heard about teachers’ paying for supplies out of their own pockets? Or school foundations trying to raise enough money for school supplies or even staffing?

With a budget of $1 billion, these stop-gap funds should not be necessary.

In a perfect world, board members should put educating kids before making unfeasible financial decisions and deals with the bargaining units.

We expect the board to uphold its fiscal and policy responsibilities, such as approving balanced budgets, supporting well-rounded curriculums, leading discussions about dramatically improving student outcomes and reporting annual educational growth.

Most importantly, the board should be prioritizing great teachers for all students regardless of neighborhoods.

And perhaps most importantly, board members should be strong leaders in the face of adversity.

It’s not enough to talk the talk; UPforEd plans to walk the walk.

We want nothing less than a seat at the table and participate in long-range planning to ensure proactive and collaborative decision-making, such as choosing the best programs for students.

The bottom line: it’s time for a change.

Meet the candidates. Visit their websites. Learn their positions. Vote.

It’s so simple, but so important. Too much is at stake to just sit back and hope for the best.

We have to lead by example and fight for what’s best for our kids.

That begins with hiring the most qualified people to our school board willing to not only make the hard decisions, but who do so by putting students’ needs first.

Lisa Berlanga is a San Diego Unified School District parent and the executive director of UPforEd, a nonprofit of parent-engagement agents dedicated to ensuring a kids-first agenda at San Diego Unified School District.


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    This article relates to: Education, Letters, Opinion

    Written by Lisa Berlanga

    32 comments
    shawn fox
    shawn fox subscriber

    No, it is an example of free speech. The voice doesn't endorse the views, they simply allow free speech (most of the time). They even allow radical left wing rebuttals to be posted regardless of whether they offer any value to the discussion. Leave it to some left wing progressive to suggest that only articles that support THEIR views should be allowed. The voice doesn't "print" the letters. They simply allow people to log in and write opinion articles regardless of whether the writer is a democrat, republican, independent, libertarian, or what have you.

    shawn1874
    shawn1874

    No, it is an example of free speech. The voice doesn't endorse the views, they simply allow free speech (most of the time). They even allow radical left wing rebuttals to be posted regardless of whether they offer any value to the discussion. Leave it to some left wing progressive to suggest that only articles that support THEIR views should be allowed. The voice doesn't "print" the letters. They simply allow people to log in and write opinion articles regardless of whether the writer is a democrat, republican, independent, libertarian, or what have you.

    shawn fox
    shawn fox subscriber

    As usual, the voice continues to allow the vicious personal attacks and unsubstantiated accusations by the far left but will censor reasonable rebuttals. It's pretty clear from reading the message boards that it isn't possible to have a peaceful dialogue about these kinds of things.

    shawn1874
    shawn1874

    As usual, the voice continues to allow the vicious personal attacks and unsubstantiated accusations by the far left but will censor reasonable rebuttals. It's pretty clear from reading the message boards that it isn't possible to have a peaceful dialogue about these kinds of things.

    Maura Larkins
    Maura Larkins subscriber

    Where did UPforEd get so much money so quickly? Is Irwin Jacobs a major contributor? How about Rod Dammeyer and Buzz Woolley? Were assets transferred to UPforEd from SD4GS?

    Maura Larkins
    Maura Larkins

    Where did UPforEd get so much money so quickly? Is Irwin Jacobs a major contributor? How about Rod Dammeyer and Buzz Woolley? Were assets transferred to UPforEd from SD4GS?

    Wiz1
    Wiz1

    "Quack."

    Jim Withers
    Jim Withers subscriber

    It clarifies the empirical fact that, despite paragraph upon paragraph of bloviation, Up for Ed was started in 2011 after the parent trigger and its pro-charter rules came into law. Thanks!

    Wiz1
    Wiz1

    It clarifies the empirical fact that, despite paragraph upon paragraph of bloviation, Up for Ed was started in 2011 after the parent trigger and its pro-charter rules came into law. Thanks!

    ScrippsDad
    ScrippsDad subscriber

    Hope this helps clarify.

    Maura Larkins
    Maura Larkins subscriber

    Until you make that argument, I think Wiz1 is correct when he states that UPforEd started in 2011.

    Maura Larkins
    Maura Larkins

    Until you make that argument, I think Wiz1 is correct when he states that UPforEd started in 2011.

    Jim Withers
    Jim Withers subscriber

    If it it looks, walks and quacks like a duck, it must be a duck. Quack. And feel free to have the last word in here, this is tiring.

    Wiz1
    Wiz1

    If it it looks, walks and quacks like a duck, it must be a duck. Quack. And feel free to have the last word in here, this is tiring.

    ScrippsDad
    ScrippsDad subscriber

    BTW - what do you do to make difference with our children's education besides read and try and trash good people on VOSD?

    ScrippsDad
    ScrippsDad

    BTW - what do you do to make difference with our children's education besides read and try and trash good people on VOSD?

    Veronica Krautheim
    Veronica Krautheim subscriber

    By siphoning money from the school district to pay for-profit companies, and by paying less of that tax money to local individuals who work for the company, charter schools are a detriment to our communities. Their record of academic success is limited. Some charters are better than others, just like public schools, even though the charters can pick and choose their students.

    Resident
    Resident

    By siphoning money from the school district to pay for-profit companies, and by paying less of that tax money to local individuals who work for the company, charter schools are a detriment to our communities. Their record of academic success is limited. Some charters are better than others, just like public schools, even though the charters can pick and choose their students.

    Bill Bradshaw
    Bill Bradshaw subscribermember

    Is the public actually going to vote to give this bunch a huge new pile of money to play with? I hope not. Until the money is shut off, they won't change their behavior.

    toulon
    toulon

    Is the public actually going to vote to give this bunch a huge new pile of money to play with? I hope not. Until the money is shut off, they won't change their behavior.

    Jim Jones
    Jim Jones subscriber

    Only if you are OK giving kids a substandard education at great expense could you advocate for the current mess.

    Jim Jones
    Jim Jones

    Only if you are OK giving kids a substandard education at great expense could you advocate for the current mess.

    Jim Withers
    Jim Withers subscriber

    As for VOSD printing this letter - just another example of its right-wing agenda over the past year.

    Wiz1
    Wiz1

    As for VOSD printing this letter - just another example of its right-wing agenda over the past year.

    Jim Jones
    Jim Jones subscriber

    The school board is meaningless and our schools will remain an embarrassment until the unions are broken.

    Jim Jones
    Jim Jones

    The school board is meaningless and our schools will remain an embarrassment until the unions are broken.

    Maura Larkins
    Maura Larkins subscriber

    I agree with you, Lisa, that it was disgraceful for the teachers' union to oppose applying for Race to the Top funds.

    Maura Larkins
    Maura Larkins

    I agree with you, Lisa, that it was disgraceful for the teachers' union to oppose applying for Race to the Top funds.

    Maura Larkins
    Maura Larkins subscriber

    Is it just too easy to target the teachers union?

    Maura Larkins
    Maura Larkins

    Is it just too easy to target the teachers union?